Ameloblastoma: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments


A nonmalignant tumor known as ameloblastoma, which can develop from odontogenic tissues, is sometimes encountered in dental practice. It is mainly found in the area of the angle of the lower jaw, and less often affects the upper jaw. With small sizes, this disease is often asymptomatic but with large sizes, it can lead to facial deformation, as well as loosening and loss of teeth.

Causes of Ameloblastoma

It is among the most common types of dental tumors encountered in dental practices. Ameloblastoma mandible occurs in 80% of cases. It is rare in children or adolescents, and there are no statistically significant differences by sex, so it may occur about equally often in men and women.

Relapses of ameloblastoma are quite common, and with prolonged illness and a susceptibility to cancer, the tumor can become malignant. The growth of a tumor to a noticeable size can take from a year to several years, and in the initial stage it may occur without symptoms but then other ameloblastoma symptoms may appear:

  • Facial asymmetry is accompanied by a change in the proportion of facial features.
  • Periodic pain in the jaw area, and some cases it can become permanent.
  • Loose teeth and malocclusion.
  • Changes in facial skin color and texture.
  • Visible deformations of the maxillofacial structures.

Like many other tumors, the exact causes of ameloblastoma have not yet been established. There are several theories, but at the moment none of them has received an ample substantiation. Most experts believe that the development of ameloblastoma is facilitated by a disruption in the division of dental cell precursors.

Complications from a tumor are related to its size: the larger the tumor, the more serious the problems. This can lead to facial deformation, misalignment of teeth and other defects. In the case of malignant transformation, acute problems may occur, such as weight loss, bone fractures, shortness of breath, as well as metastases and inflammatory processes.

Diagnosis of Ameloblastoma

Recognizing this illness can pose a challenge as it often remains asymptomatic for an extended period in the majority of cases. The tumor is most often discovered accidentally during an X-ray examination or in the presence of a significant increase in the size of the jaw. Typically, the general condition of patients remains normal, while the tumor grows slowly.

Diagnosis of ameloblastoma begins with an examination by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, who evaluates the patient’s complaints and medical history, and also conducts an examination. Then additional studies are ordered.

In the early stages, pathology can often be identified through radiography, which is usually prescribed due to other dental problems. Characteristic changes in the bone structure usually attract attention to X-rays of the affected area from various angles. This allows you to determine the size and extent of the ameloblastoma unicystic, its structure, the boundaries of the tumor and the condition of the cortical plate.

If x-rays suggest ameloblastoma, a cytological examination is performed. If cells characteristic of this tumor are detected, an appropriate diagnosis is made.

Ameloblastoma Treatment Methods

Ameloblastoma can be successfully treated by surgical removal of the affected jaw tissue. The extent of the operation depends on the location and degree of development of the disease. Different ameloblastoma treatment methods, such as modern surgical procedures, can be used in the early stages.

However, if the tumor has already grown to a significant size and has covered most of the bone tissue, more extensive operations must be performed, including the removal of part of the jaw or even a whole row of teeth.

Surgery is performed under local (in mild cases) or general anesthesia. Before the this ameloblastoma treatment, the oral cavity undergoes sanitation. If inflammatory complications occur with the formation of pus, during the operation the foci of inflammation are removed and the contents of the abscesses are drained. Since the epithelial cells of the tumor can be active to inhibit relapse and transition of the tumor into a malignant form, after removal of the tumor, the oral cavity is treated with phenolic drugs.

After removal of the tumor, drug therapy is prescribed, the purpose of which is to prevent postoperative complications and relapses of the peripheral ameloblastoma. The rehabilitation period after surgery requires a change in diet (limitation of solid and rough foods; in case of extensive removal of bone tissue, liquid nutrition is recommended). In some cases, special plates and jaw prostheses are made to restore chewing function.

Timely detection of ameloblastoma in the jaw in the early stages allows preserving the maxillofacial structures and removing the tumor without significant loss of bone tissue. Therefore, the main preventive measure is regular visits to the dentist NYC and careful attention to your health.

Article Approved by:

Reena Clarkson Orthodontist, DDS